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NBC News (17/March/1949)

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NBC News (17/March/1949)

NBC News Room Chicago - Clifton Utley

The News on March 17, 1949 included:
- Willis-Overland Cuts Car Prices By 10%,
- New Rent Bill Increase Prices 10%,
- Italian Communists Riot To Block The Atlantic Pact,
- Truman To Give News Conference,
- Pullman Strike Set For March 31st,
- Sports News, ...

Run time 12 minutes 2 seconds
Audio/Visual sound, color


Reviewer: paulwl - - March 28, 2013
Subject: Mostly gone
The kine recording started only late in 1947. Before then every network affiliate was in the NE US, and on the coaxial cable, so there was no need to distribute kines to affils.

Before that, TV picture tubes were too dim to photograph well, and in any case, no one was anxious to promote or preserve such modest programming. It would have taken a lot of the "wow" out of the medium just as people were able to buy sets and air time.
Reviewer: The_Emperor_Of_Television - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 13, 2012
Subject: Updated
This low budget newscast is interesting to watch for the newsperson's opinions on matters of the day, though at this point, newspapers were still the preferred news source and had more detailed coverage.

On the running time: Back then, newscasts were very short, running between 12 minutes and 14.5 minutes. The remaining 15 minutes was usually filled with a light music show....though one network filled out the remaining 15 minutes with a children's sci-fi adventure serial!

EDIT: After extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that this is the oldest surviving example of an American newscast.

In case you really wanted to know, the oldest surviving kinescoped example of an American public affairs series for which the exact air date is known is an episode of "The People's Platform" from 7 December 1948, which dicussed wage increases and aired on CBS.

"Operation Success", a public affairs series which interviewed disabled war veterans in the hope to get jobs for them, has two surviving episodes from 1948 and aired on the now-defunct DuMont network.

The oldest surviving example of a documentary series is the 26 February 1948 episode of "Eye Witness", which aired on NBC.
Reviewer: eydie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 27, 2012
Subject: real news!
not the crap we call news today. actual news. oh, to live in a time when we didn't worship celebrities and news people were real professionals.
Reviewer: micah6vs8 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 14, 2011
Subject: So that's what it looks like
I'd take that concise 12' over any bloated 'news' program today. I actually shouldn't say today, since I stopped watching years ago. What is the news reader (and that's what they simply are) wearing? Is that a robe? What fabric is that?
I agree that the last snippet was by far the most important piece of news, but maybe that's seeing it through 21st century eyes. The man didn't seem stupid so I'll let it go.
What can you say about the graph. Graph's on T.V.! Along w/ the sports, all handwritten.
I like that he states news and commentary up front, unlike today when some hide under the ,"I'm a journalist, so I am objective." banner. No one is objective. Let me know the lens from which you see. So, to hear him call the Italian Communists, Commies, was refreshing. Especially w/ the slight disdain in his voice. I was surprised by the second photo from the Commie riots. Very graphic, as he points out. Finally, I'll take one still shot and write as you go sports scores over ESPN any day. But then again, I haven't watched that drivel in years.
Reviewer: ACT1 NowPlaying - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 14, 2011
Subject: propaganda and priorities - excellent newscast though
Seems like the last article of news should have been the first HEADLINER. you know, just a minor mention about finding plutonium in Mexico suspected of coming from the US? This should have been the headline news. WW-II was over and the scary a-bomb was still scary. But Mr Utley saved his last 5 seconds for this big deal. Millions of lives are at risk when someone steels a a-bomb but car sales took a big piece of the newscast. Priorities and propaganda, sounds like today.
Reviewer: babysprite - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 15, 2011
Subject: Television HIstory
Thanks for an enjoyable part of television history.
Reviewer: porterville - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 5, 2011
Subject: NBC Newscast Is Excellent
This is a precious treasure. Thank you so much for including it on Internet Archive. The positive comments and background history from previous viewers (see below) are much appreciated.
Reviewer: Pleonic - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 4, 2011
Subject: Modern Aspects of TV's Early Days
Aside from the flavor for the atmosphere after the war that this gives you, there were 2 things that struck me as unexpected for such an early broadcast: First, that photo from Italy showing the man with the mashed in face is much more graphic that I expected. Even today it would probably get a "viewer discretion is advised" disclaimer if it appeared on the news. Even Fox!

Second, even though the graphics look hand drawn, as an earlier comment says, I was fascinated with the animated charts. Anybody have any idea how they did that when TV was in its infancy? It almost looks like a sophisticated Etch-a-Sketch.

A very interesting piece of film.


Here's a short biography I discovered on Mr. Utley and his Frayn, who both played an important role in early Chicago television:

Clifton Utley's career at NBC-Chicago spanned the years 1932-1959 and included both radio and television. He came to broadcast journalism via the classic City News Bureau-Chicago Daily News-Associated Press route. His interest in---and advocacy of---foreign affairs was a constant throughout his professional life (he was a director of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations for eleven years beginning in 1931).

During the years of World War II, Utley's 7:55-8:00 am newscast from studio H (sponsored by Quaker Oats) provided many Chicagoans with their first news update of the day--- coupled with analysis that other broadcast journalists who merely rewrote wire copy couldn't match.

When television came to NBC-Chicago in the late 1940's, news director Bill Ray quickly tapped Utley to become the medium's first newscaster-commentator (thus beginning a tradition carried on later by Len O'Connor and Dick Kay).

When Clifton Utley suffered a stroke in 1953, his wife Frayn (who had moderated a daily foreign-affairs broadcast on CBS in 1940 and 1941) ably filled the gap.

Clifton Utley returned to radio in 1956 and television the following year. He retired in 1959 and died in January of 1978 at the age of 73.

Frayn Utley died in August, 2001 at the age of 97.

You can regularly see the Utley's son Garrick on CNN. Their daughter-in-law Carol Marin remains Chicago's most distinguished broadcast journalist.

(Cited from
Reviewer: Graham W - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 14, 2011
Subject: It's unfortunate that today we've forgotten this simpler, more relaxed style of news presentation.
Very interesting old television footage. It seems today's broadcasters have 'forgotten' important communications aspects of news and current affairs presentations that were once in common usage over 60 years ago, thus present-day news services might do well to consider their reintroduction. Back then, evidence suggests the expectations of a news service were such that it be fully comprehensible to its audience without the need for its contents having to be simplified and or dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator--an unfortunate process that's now become almost universal with present day media and news services.

A few specific observations about this kinescope recording:

1. This film clip distinctly lacks present-day hype and BS. It's a pleasant change to hear well presented facts without broadcasters hyping them up.

2. This news presentation presupposes its audience actually has reasonable intelligence, thus it's expected to be able to concentrate on an individual concept/news item for more than 15 seconds a time! This broadcast takes for granted its audience will still have a good grasp of the presented subject days later--perhaps a strange notion these days where micro-news-bites are forgotten so quickly that they've to be continually reinforced through repeated hourly news broadcasts. (In 1949, listeners and viewers would be very unlikely hear or view more than one news broadcast per day.)

3. It's graphs are easy to understand. They're little more than simple hand drawings but they're clearly presented whilst the voice-over progressively provides basic explanations for each issue. Essentially, the graphs are presented in a simple, utilitarian manner sans unnecessary, distracting and annoying graphics dross, which we're so often force-fed these days.

4. Upfront, the newsreader, Clifton Utley, states that there's some uncertainty as to whether he'll have time to present the last news item. Furthermore, he does not attempt to squeeze it in at the cost of other items, and in the end, he omits the item altogether. Instead, presented topics are allocated an amount of time that's commensurate with what's needed for their correct presentation and it's done in ways that maximize audience comprehension. ('Tis a lesson that ought to be sorely learnt by present-day media.)

5. There's no irritating strident presentation that's so common today. Newsreader Utley is not rushed and his presentation is relaxed, pleasant and informative. His presentation style could hardly be further from the incessantly repeated streams of junk info bits that purports to be today's news.

6. In 1949, the U.S. doesn't seem quite so obsessed with marketing its position in the world as it does today. Here, the world map backdrop is irrelevant to the presented news items, thus it's been defaulted to a neutral location instead of what's more usual today--that of a seemingly ever-present, distracting, screen-sized map of the USA or similar, which is usually irrelevant and unrelated to the item that's currently the subject of the broadcast.

Surprisingly, this old-style way of presenting news is refreshingly clean and simple when compared with what's now commonplace. Not only is its presentation more pleasing and relaxed, but also it's actually a more effective means of communication.


QUESTION: this 1949 NBC television broadcast news footage seems to be the only archive of its kind here at I.A.; being an orphan it's somewhat out of place. Excluding obvious, well-known world headlines etc. does anyone know if other similar news recordings still exist from this era? If so, then where are they? Is it still likely CBS, NBC etc. possess similar daily archives such as this one?


[I reckon there ought to be more of these recordings somewhere…. In the TV era before videotape and during the later time of the 2"-quad videotape years, 1957-c1980--that period before videotape was cheap, easy and commonplace--film was regularly used to both record and archive television programs. Programs, whether initially recorded on film by film cameras or whether recorded from TV cameras onto 16mm film by kinescope (or from 1957 onwards, after being edited on videotape), were usually all transferred onto 16mm film for later broadcasting, distribution and archival storage.

Except in instances where NO attempt was made to record live TV broadcasts, essentially, from the earliest days of television in the 1930's through to well into the advent of videotape, 16mm film was the preferred and only method for recording delayed TV broadcasts, for TV program distribution and for the archiving of television programs. Therefore, it would have been normal practice for all such news footage to be recorded onto film, as here with this NBC News footage of 17th March 1949. Hence, my slight surprise to find that there's only one recording of this type available at the Internet Archive. Perhaps one explanation is that only this single recording escaped the clutches of the NBC archive. Or perhaps, as I more likely suspect--and which is so often the case with much early television footage--the remaining archives probably have already been destroyed.]
Reviewer: cathyftr - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 29, 2011
Subject: A time when News was well NEWS..
I have always enjoyed watching old newscasts and this one is no exception of course. Back in the day the news being reported was actual news. Today it seems to be more like 80% fluff and 20% actual news. Really how many FOX stations out there pass off American Idol as "news"?

Today my sister was telling me that she was watching a Baltimore TV newscast. What was the top story? Crime? Budget woes? The economy?

No it was about singer Lady GaGa turing 25 years old. Funny I can remember the day Elvis Presley had died back in 1977 and how so many people felt that while it was important for the news to cover his death the death of Elvis did not deserve to be "top story". My how times have changed.
Reviewer: Karltonthedoorman - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 8, 2011
Subject: Did you watch it all?
The story that would lead the news today is barely mentioned after the sports section. It seems to be an unimportant afterthought. Mexican Secret Police have recovered a canister of stolen uranium, probably from the United States. This would surely get it's own theme music and graphics today.
Reviewer: jazzfan - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 28, 2010
Subject: 12 Minutes of News?
U-Bet. We have that today. A half-hour newscast yields 12 minutes with the rest filler brought to you by Viagra.
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